Monday, September 19, 2011

The Canadian Map Stamp of 1898

Imperial Penny Postage

At a conference on postage rates held in London, England, in 1898, William Mulock, Postmaster General of Canada, proposed an Imperial one penny letter rate. Mulock's scheme was initially adopted for Great Britain, Canada, Newfoundland, Cape Colony, and Natal.

The Imperial Penny Postage came into effect on December 25, 1898. To mark the event, the Canada Post Office issued a 2 cent (equivalent to British 1d.) commemorative stamp whose release date was scheduled for December 25 but because of public pressure was released on December 7, 1898. On December 25, 1898, the one-half ounce letter rate from Canada to certain parts of the empire was reduced from 5 cents to 2 cents.


National Archives of Canada

National Archives of Canada

National Archives of Canada

National Archives of Canada

National Archives of Canada

Issued Stamps

The Imperial Penny Stamp was an outstanding three-colour product featuring a map of the world with the British empire in red. Twenty million stamps were ordered, half with the ocean in blue and half with the ocean in green. Several shades exist including lavender.

Centenial Commemoration

Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp on May 29, 1998, to mark the 100th anniversary of the introduction of Imperial Penny Post, featuring the 1898 Map stamp:

Canada Post described the stamp issue as follows in its press release:
It was a momentous time in postal history; one hundred years ago, imperial penny postage was introduced, allowing Canadians to send letters anywhere in the British Empire at the rate of one British penny - just two cents Canadian! It was a huge triumph for Canada, Postmaster General Sir William Mulock played a pivotal role in negotiating this change from the previous levy of five Canadian cents. The penny-postage stamp is one of the most revered by collectors. It was the world's first Christmas issue. The stamp featured a collage of Queen Victoria's crown, a map of the world with the British Empire displayed in red, "Xmas 1898" and the phrase, "We hold a vaster empire than has been". Produced in three colours and by two different processes by the American Bank Note Company of Ottawa, it was the most expensive issue in Canadian philatelic history to that date. Recognizing the significance of the stamp for collectors, Canada Post will issue a single domestic-rate stamp. Queen Victoria's crown, a portrait of Postmaster General Sir William Mulock, and a reproduction of the original stamp are together depicted against a dark backdrop with "Canada" boldly displayed.

William Mulock

William Mulock was the Member of Parliament (Liberal) for the riding of York North, Ontario, from 1882 to 1905. Mulock was Postmaster General from 1896 to 1905.

William Mulock Correspondence

Ottawa to Hamilton, April 15, 1905
Senate handstamp and Ottawa "free" cancel

Initials "W.M."

Map Stamp Usages

To Great Britain

 Ancaster to London, April 17, 1899
2 cents "Imperial Penny Postage" rate

Although the stamp was intended to prepay the Imperial letter rate, the stamp could be used to prepay any other rate or fee. The examples below show the Map Stamp used to pay the UPU post card rate.

To Hungary

Toronto Spadina Avenue to Budapest, January 3, 1899
Budapest receiver January 16, 1899

"Greetings from Toronto"

To Belgium

Montreal to Brussels, November 6, 1899
Brussels arrival November 18, 1899

Bureau Central du Sacre-Coeur correspondence